The oldest murder defendant in Massachusetts’ history is waiting – and waiting – for her day in court. Laura Lundquist, 102, was 98 when she was accused of killing Elizabeth Barrow, her 100-year-old roommate at the Brandon Woods nursing home in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. She is facing second-degree murder charges after the woman was found with a plastic bag tied around her head in her bed, the Huffington Post reports.
Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter says her charges are not more serious because it is believed that Lundquist does not have the cognitive abilities at her age to have planned the murder. She has been deemed incompetent to stand trial, and although the court is “updated” on her mental state every three months, it is not believed she will improve enough to actually appear in court and defend herself.
According to the Daily News, Barrow’s son, Scott, filed a lawsuit against the nursing home, claiming its owners were negligent. However, an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Brandon Woods nursing home and claimed no evidence of wrongdoing was found.
After she was indicted, Lundquist was paranoid and thought Barrow was trying to take over her bed by the window, claims Sutter. Scott Barrow, reportedly tried to have his mother and the suspect separated, but was told by staff that the two women were getting along. He said his mother did not want to leave the room because she had lived there with her husband until his death in 2007, the International Business Times reports.
Scott Picone, who was the nursing home’s chief of operations at the time of the murder, says Lundquist and Barrow were offered room changes twice and, both times, the women asked to stay together. He also said the women often exchanged “good night's” and “I love you's” before bed.
For now, Lundquist, who has a longstanding diagnosis of dementia and has been held at a state psychiatric hospital since her indictment, continues to wait for a court trial that may never come.
“It would be like prosecuting a 2-year-old,” Scott Barrow said in a statement. “It’s just an awful thing that happened. How could she be held accountable for this when she’s not in her right mind?”